Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dutch Oven Dinner Rolls

This recipe is a combination of a dinner roll recipe taken from The Dutch Oven Cookbook by the Kohler and Michaud families and The Pioneer Woman's Buttered Rosemary Rolls.

 While I think it best made in either a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet to absorb some flavor, you can make it in a greased baking dish or tin as well. With the cast iron, though, I let it warm up on a low heat burner for 20 minutes or so, then turned the burner off and let the skillet or whatever stay sitting on it. Coat it with a thin layer of Crisco and it will be all warm and prepped for your roll's second rising. No sacrilege intended.

(if you need a crash course in cast iron cookware, check out my article Cast Iron: The Only Pan You'll Ever Need)

Dutch Oven Dinner Rolls (makes approx 1 dozen rolls)

Time: 15 minutes prep. 2 hours rising time. 15 minute cooking time.


1 Tbl yeast
1/4 cup warm water (I think its more like hot water that you can stand...120 to 130 degrees...haven't had yeast die on me yet!)
1/8 tsp sugar (a pinch)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 Tbl butter

sea salt and melted butter and rosemary (if you like it) for during baking time


1.  In a small bowl, mix the yeast, water and the pinch of sugar. Let sit until foamy and it smells yummy (unless I'm the only one who likes that smell).

2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over medium heat. Dissolve the salt and the rest of the sugar in the mix and stir well.

3. Transfer to a large bowl and add half the flour (1 1/2 cups in case you're not great at math).  Mix thoroughly.

4.  Add the yeast mixture, stir well, then add another cup of flour (retaining half a cup). The dough will be stiff. Don't worry.

5.  Sprinkle some of the flour on a flat (clean) surface and knead until the dough is smooth.  Enjoy this part...its my favorite.  

6.  The Dutch Oven Cookbook says to put in a greased bowl but I think dishes are awful and don't want to add another one.  So put it back in that same large bowl and it will be just okay.  Or mostly okay.  Or if you're anal-retentive you can break out another bowl and grease it up and put your dough baby in that.  Whatever you put it in, place it in a warm place and cover with a clean towel and leave it alone until its doubled. (an hour or so)

7.  When its all nice and puffy, use some Crisco and grease up your cast iron or baking dish. Rub a little of that Crisco on your hands and grab a hunk of that delicious dough. Shape it into a nice round ball and place it in the dish. Repeat with the rest until your little dough babies are all shaped.

8.  Cover with a towel and let it double again. I know. Sigh. Set your timer for 35 minutes or so and when that goes off, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Set your timer for another 10-15 minutes and by the time your rolls are done rising your oven will be ready.

9.  Pop those suckers in for 10-12 minutes.

10.  Pull them out and have your melted butter and a brush ready. Coat the top with luscious butter and sprinkle with coarse ground sea salt (or just salt..but the coarse really makes it) and the rosemary on top. Thank you Pioneer Woman. Pop it back in for 2-4 more minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.

The nice thing about making it in cast iron is the bread will stay warm for hours.

Excuse me, I Charded.

Last night while talking to my mom I told her I was making chard for dinner and she had heard of chard before. Since I'm a big fan of this vegetable I thought I would give y'all a little tour of this heavyweight veggie in terms of nutrition.

This is Swiss chard. Red stalks, big dark green leaves packed with Vitamins K, A and C.

below is Rainbow Chard...and yes those colors are all real and natural!

To make it you can saute, steam, or blanch it (there's probably more ways, those are just the ones I've done). Previously I rolled it up, cut it in ribbons and steamed it with garlic and orzo...but I couldn't find the recipe last night and almost drove myself crazy looking for it.

So instead I tried out a new recipe from the Alton Brown cookbook I got for Christmas, which has onions, LOTS of garlic, which after you cook for awhile you add a paste of butter and flour and toast it all, then add crushed tomatos, chicken broth and whisk till the sauce becomes creamy goodness. Throw in whole wheat pasta (boiled in the water the chard was blanched in to get extra minerals and goodness) and the chopped up chard. Topped with parmesan or feta (the parm was better) it was pretty darn good! I think I may add a few of my own tweaks, but Matt ate 4 servings so it couldn't be that bad!

mmmm...we're both having it again for lunch today too...

and did I mention this entire meal costs about $6 or $7?

Here is Alton Brown's recipe from his book, I'm Just Here For the Food (with my own tweaking)

Chard with Garlic and Tomato

2 Tbl butter, softened
2 Tbl flour
2 Tbl olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion (or couple of shallots)
8 cloves garlic, sliced thin (if you use a garlic press that's just fine too, don't freak out)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you're of the daring sort)
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes (or you can use fresh tomatoes, dropped in boiling water, skinned and seeded. Then crushed. Crushing is the fun part.)
1 cup chicken stock
16 oz dry bowtie pasta (or penne, or whatever is left in your cupboard)
1 bunch Swiss or rainbow chard, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I know the pics show feta...but that wasn't a homerun...)
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine (or dried, I guess. sigh)
salt & freshly ground pepper


1. Bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Have another bowl with ice cold water in it ready. You're going to blanch the chard first.

2.  Drop the chard in the boiling water, blanch for 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon or pasta server to the cold water bowl and submerge to stop the cooking. Once its cooled, strain it and let it dry out a bit.

3.  Keep that water boiling, and notice that its greenish colored now? All those nice nutrients are still floating around in there. Add a bunch of salt, and add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
Note: People like their pasta at different consistencies. I have a tendency to forget about the pasta unless I set a timer, so if the cooking time says 10-12 minutes, I'll set a timer for 9 minutes. When it goes off, I'll keep testing the pasta every minute or so until its the texture I like.

4. While the pasta is cooking, blend the butter and flour in a small bowl until a smooth paste is formed.

5. Head the olive oil in the sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and red pepper flakes, and sauté until the onions turn golden - about 7-10 minutes. In the last minute or so add the garlic (the directions say add when you add the onions, but I find my garlic burns by the time the onions are done). 

Oh, check on your pasta. It might be done now.

6. Drop the head to medium-low, whisk in the flour and butter mixture and cook for 5 minutes.

7. Add those tomatoes and keep whisking for 2-3 minutes. 

8. Add the chicken stock and whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. 

9. Throw in that cooked pasta and the chard, season with salt and pepper and stir until heated through.

10.  Top off with the Parmesan and rosemary. 

This dinner is also easy to add chicken too. Just cook the chicken before tossing it in at the end with the pasta and chard. 

To further impress upon you the goodness of chard, here's a link to a chart showing how much good stuff it has...

Thus endeth my acolade of chard.

What the Kale?

So far on our no-spend month we've spent about $90 on groceries and have kept up chipping away at that debt.

Having our CSA veggies and fruit pre-paid is nice and we've got an abundance of kale at the moment. Here's a typical conversation between Matt and I in the evening.

Me: So...what do you want for dinner?

Matt: Oh, I don't know.

Me: That's helpful.

Matt: How 'bout chicken?

Me: Thank you for being specific...we have a lot of kale too...

Matt: Stir fry?

Me: Sounds okay to me. Its been two whole days since we had that.
(just kidding...kinda)

Joking aside we're blessed to have access to so much produce every week and are glad we signed up...since it forces us to eat our veggies.

I was not a veggie eater as a kid.

I liked three vegetables: corn, carrots and potatoes.

Basically anything that was sweet or starchy and you could smother in butter.

But then, Julia Child smothers a whole variety of vegetables in butter and they all taste good too...braised turnips anyone?

As I got older I realized I needed to be a bit more adult and eat I smothered them in ranch dressing and choked them down.
Then I discovered what baby spinach looked like...and that I actually liked it. And then Matt brought home mushrooms one day (which I never liked since they were usually tasteless and slimy), and after a quick saute in olive oil with salt and pepper I found I was in love with mushrooms.
Our affair with veggies got progressively worse (better?) from there.

During the summer months (used to be year round but we're trying to eat with the seasons now) we would glut ourselves on zucchini and squash.

I bought an eggplant because it looked pretty and figured out how to make it taste pretty too.

I even began using *gasp* onions and tomatoes. The former I love the flavor but hate the crunch so I chop them up into itty bitty pieces. Tomatoes are the opposite...its just the flavor that I can't stand. So I mask it with curry or Italian herbs or anything else.

One time at a farmer's market I was walking with my Mom and a friend. As we passed a display of those gorgeous heritage tomatoes in a rainbow of colors, my friend tried a sample. Her face lit up and she handed it to my mom, who mmmmed as well. They handed it to me.

I don't like tomatoes.

But these are heritage tomatoes!

They still taste like tomatoes.

If you don't like these I'll actually believe you!

Just to prove to my friend I loved her I tried the tomato. And almost gagged.

I just. don't. like. tomatoes.

But I still cook with them and currently have a three foot high robust tomato in the backyard waiting for it to bloom so I can make some marinara.

Kale, admittedly, isn't my favorite vegetable.

But throw some olive oil in a sauté pan, when its medium-hot throw some garlic in. After that's smelling like heaven throw in some torn up kale, stir it around and let it wilt. Top with some salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and its actually edible.

For more ways on how to stretch your grocery dollars, read my article on Frugal Fine Dining.

Pumpkin-Applesauce-Flax Bread?

It being No Spend Month I had run out of vegetable oil. It was a lazy Sunday morning and we weren't wanting to have to go to the store for any. 

That morning I had already made blueberry pancakes with flaxseed meal in place of oil. 

That was on a smaller scale, though. 

FYI, if you want to use flaxseed meal instead of oil the ratio is 1:3. For one tablespoon of oil you can substitute 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal. The first time I tried it I was expecting it to be dry and coarse, but instead it was still moist and fluffy! The pancakes needed a bit more milk, but once you get the consistency right its all good from there!

The recipe for pumpkin bread called for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.  That's 8 tablespoons of oil, or what would be 24 Tbl of flaxseed meal...that's a lot!

Then I remembered we had applesauce, too. Replacing applesauce for oil is a 1:1 ratio, but sometimes that can come out dry.

So for this I did part applesauce, part flaxseed meal and the result was delicious! We're running low on unbleached flour and whole wheat flour so I used a cup of each.

That doesn't look too dry now, does it? A little dollop of butter and a cup of coffee and it was de-lish! (Not that it needed either, but they completed Dorothy completed Jerry Maguire)

I would have taken a picture of the top of the bread but I had already eaten it...

There are a lot of benefits to flaxseed. Two tablespoons of flaxseed meal has just as much fiber as 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal! It can also lower bad LDL cholesterol and packs a lot of omega-3. 

So here is my modified Pumpkin Bread recipe, should you want to try it out.


1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used evaporated cane juice and it worked well)
1 cup canned pumpkin (I used a whole can cuz I can)
9 tablespoons of flaxseed meal (really good flavor, actually. Not so health-nutty)
5 tablespoons of applesauce
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg  (or more, if you like)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  (or more, if you like)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger  (or more, if you like)
1/4 cup water (I just realized I forgot this...maybe the extra pumpkin made up for one's perfect, right?)

1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
3. In a medium or large bowl, combine sugars, pumpkin, flaxseed meal, applesauce and eggs. Beat until well blended.
4. In a separate large bowl, sift together flours, soda, salt and spices. Add the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in water, raisins and nuts if using.
5. Turn into prepared pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
6. Spread with luscious butter and make yourself a Morning Cup and you're ready!

For more tips on eating for cheap, check out my article on Frugal Fine Dining.

Florets Polonaise

Last week in our CSA box we got some Romanesca cauliflower.

Having no idea what to do with this odd-looking vegetable I browsed through one of my cookbooks and found a recipe that looked...interesting. Interesting enough to be worth a try.
FYI, this recipe was taken from Organic Kitchen, a cookbook from my dear friend Heatherly who, incidentally, is getting married this weekend--congrats!

Back to the recipe. I kinda cocked an eye at the ingredients which included lemon rind, hardboiled eggs and breadcrumbs...could be good, could be...interesting...
It was delicious. And easy, to boot! That's always a good thing for a side dish. So here is the recipe, if you care to liven up your boring old steamed carrots and broccoli (and Romanesca cauliflower).

Florets Polonaise

1 1/4 pounds mixed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesca cauliflower, carrots, etc. (anything you can steam, basically)

2-4 Tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil (depending on your taste preference and addiction to butter)
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon (or a dash of lemon juice, like I used)
1 large garlic clove (don't be afraid to use keeps away those pesky Twilight vampires)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, lightly baked or broiled until crisp (come on, it takes, like, 30 seconds in the broiler)
2 eggs, hardboiled (stay with me here)
sea salt and ground black pepper

1. Trim the veggies and break/cut into equal sizes. Steam whatever way you want to. In a steamer on the stove, in the microwave, in your shower like Kramer on Seinfield...
2. While the veggies are cooking, mix together the lemon rind (or juice), garlic, seasoning and breadcrumbs.
3. Toss the steamed veggies in butter or oil and transfer to a serving dish (or a bowl...we keep it classy here)
4. Sprinkle the lemon/garlic mix over the veggies and stir to coat them with yumminess.
5. Finely chop the hardboiled eggs and sprinkle on top.
6. Serve it all nice and warm. I pretty much ate this for dinner last night. By itself.
Bon Apetit!

Why Make Cooking Drudgery?

I'm no brilliant chef. But I do like to cook, and I like to have fun while I cook.

So here, for your enjoyment, are recipies I've tried out and been pretty successful with.

Eat well, my friends.